Saturday, 19 March 2016

Forensics And National Security In Nigeria (Part 1)


The CIA is to intelligence as FBI is to investigation. Take away these two components from a nation’s security operation, tell me how effective that system will endure threats and assaults and i will tell you how vulnerable and exposed that nation is.

 The FBI crime laboratory at Virginia, USA is arguably the best in the world. The Lab has many sections dealing with several disciplines such as Lingusitics, Ballistics, Chemistry, Biology, Fingerprints, DNA and Trace Evidence Analysis among others. Audio recordings of intercepted local and international phone calls(involving several languages), encrypted texts from emails and mobile messages, fingerprints of suspected terrorists and wanted criminals, including their DNA - are all analyzed in this enviable crime lab. Do you know that almost all states police departments in the US if not all have their own well-equipped crime labs? And all of them work in synergy.

 These specialized forensic disciplines handle evidences and cases that require a high level scientific approach to reveal their nature of the threat or hidden intent. Beside upholding and enforcing of the criminal laws, the FBI’s primary mission is “to protect and defend the US against terrorist and foreign intelligence”... And research-scientific research is a major tool that they have engaged to help them achieve their mission.

The question is, do our security agencies involve scientific research in their quest for intelligence and investigations? The Nigerian security forces are doing great in the war against terrorism. They must be commended for that. It is possible to trace the manufacturer of guns handled by these terrorists by using forensic ballistics analysis, which could help trace the both the manufacturers and dealers of those weapons. 

 With ballistic analysis,  guns used by  Boko Haram members can reveal a lot of information and damming evidence. Bullet straitions (markings left on fired bullets,) gun powder residue patterns, bullet trajectories and hidden fingerprints on a gun are some of the areas which when looked into, can reveal an incredible amount of information as to the manufacturer and shooter of a gun

Trace evidence analysis is one sure forensic discipline that employs the use of microscopic methods to classify and identify their origin of minute material evidence. Bomb blast materials can be analyzed for pollen grains and spores which will reveal likely locations and hideouts of these terrorists. The same principle goes for kidnap and armed robbery cases involving vehicles. New Zealand has been successful in the application of forensic palynology which has aided in criminal cases such as rape, theft, verifying of alibis, kidnapping and homicide.

Forensic psychologists can dig out the motivations behind these suicide bombers. How does a fifteen year old girl become a suicide bomber? It  doesn’t just happen. The same technique can be used to study the modus operandi of terrorists. The Israeli Defense Force uses this method and it has helped them to understand what really drives a young boy or girl into becoming a extremist to the extent of taking their lives-to what end? 

For a network to effectively operate, they must communicate. It could be conventional or unconventional. Osama Bin Laden didn’t trust the use of phones or any electronic gadget because he was well aware of the capability of US intelligence in using it against him. He instead opted for a non-conventional method of communication that could not be detected by electronics. But in the light of what has happened in this country, the terrorists have used mobile phones to communicate. Monitoring and Intercepting these conversations and decrypting them to reveal the information can prove useful in the fight against terrorism. 

Forensic Linguistics is a forensic discipline will prove extremely useful in this case because it employs the study of idiolets, individualistic traits that a person cannot hide in either spoken or written language. The voice of any individual is unique only to that individual. Therefore, developing a "voicebank" for comparison in criminal or terrorism cases can reveal the identity of perpetrators or conspirators of an impending plot.

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